Saturday, July 16, 2016

Plans are not just maps: they are tests of your commitment to an outcome

Photo Credit: Tamara Polajnar
We make a plan when where we want to accomplish something. We want change to happen, and we list the actions we will have to take to make it happen. When we do, we assume that the plan is a roadmap: it describes a territory that we will have to navigate.

I have come to believe that this is probably not what makes plans useful. In the map above, the mountains and loch are real (I visited them recently and can confirm they are there). But the steps in a plan are not real: they describe something that has not happened and that might never happen.

Actions in a plan are not like the roads on the map. They are more like thermometers that measure your commitment to your outcome. At this moment, do you want this enough to take this action? If you do, take the action and then take the next test. In NLP, we would call this a test of your congruency. Congruency requires that all parts of you are engaged in moving in the same direction.

The difference between plan as map and plan as a series of tests is important. If it is a map, then everything is stable and every step must be taken for the plan to be useful. If it is a series of tests, then at any point you might make one of three discoveries:
  1. Yes - I want the outcome enough to take this action now.
  2. No - I don't want the outcome enough to take this action now.
  3. Yes - I still want the outcome but I now see a different way to get there.
Looked at this way, failing to plan means failing to test how committed you are to the outcome. Working the plan means not only taking action, but establishing a pattern of commitment that will carry you forward even when the steps in the plan need to change.

No comments: